Is feline calicivirus fatal?

Feline calicivirus (FCV) is generally not considered fatal in most cases. However, it can lead to serious health issues, especially in vulnerable cats. Here’s a concise explanation:

  1. Mild Symptoms: FCV typically causes mild upper respiratory symptoms and painful mouth erosions. Cats may sneeze, have runny eyes, and develop oral ulcers. These symptoms usually resolve with supportive care.
  2. Severe Cases: In some instances, FCV can progress to more severe conditions:
    • Pneumonia: Especially in kittens or immunocompromised cats, FCV can cause pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.
    • Systemic Disease: Rarely, FCV leads to a severe systemic disease with high mortality. This form spreads rapidly among cats (epizootic) and requires intensive management.
  3. Vaccination: Vaccination is crucial. The FCV vaccine is a core vaccine, protecting against disease but not necessarily infection. Cats that have recovered from FCV should still be vaccinated.
  4. Genetic Variability: FCV’s RNA genome allows it to evolve rapidly, leading to different strains. Changing vaccine strains may be beneficial if significant disease occurs in fully vaccinated cats.

In summary, while FCV isn’t universally fatal, it demands attention due to its contagious nature and potential complications, especially in susceptible feline populations .

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